• They paved paradise and put up a parking lot, but no one bothered to write down paradise's new address … Unfiltered has alarming news from France’s Institut National des Appellations d'Origine (INAO), which oversees the appellations. With much of wine country facing pressure from urbanization, and housing developments and highways paving over vineyards, no one is quite sure anymore of the real appellation boundaries. For the first time, the INAO is creating a map using satellite images, onsite inspections and other tools. It’s particularly urgent in Bordeaux and Burgundy, where the current map is so out of date as to be irrelevant. “It’s become ridiculous,” said Alexis Guyot, agro-engineer at the INAO. Clearly, once a housing development or strip mall has gone up or a quarry gouged out of the earth, “the land has irrevocably lost its vocation as a vineyard,” Guyot told Unfiltered. Very often land values for construction outweigh grapegrowing, so vines are being ripped up. In Pessac Léognan, “unless you’re a certain prestigious château” the land is worth more for apartment buildings and strip malls. The loss in wine volume is not the only issue. The landscape affects the reputation of the appellation and its wines. Using satellite images and other tools, the INAO will produce an accurate, easily modified map for the appellations that make the request. The wine syndicates can then use this map to help protect their vineyards by lobbying against construction in certain zones. Under French law, there is also the possibility of classifying certain "exceptional sites," which will protect them from construction.
• Good news for the marriages of wine lovers: Couples that drink the same amount of alcohol are less likely to get divorced, reports a group of Norwegian researchers. Their study, which will be published in May in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, finds that divorce is influenced not only by a couple’s volume of alcohol consumption, but also by the compatibility of their drinking habits. The findings, based on interviews of nearly 20,000 couples over a 15-year period, emphasize that heavy drinking tends to end in marital discord, especially among couples in which the wife out-drinks her husband—their chances of a breakup are approximately double those of a heavy-drinking husband and light-drinking wife, and triple those of two light drinkers. The researchers caution that couples that want to stay together should drink together, but moderately: A marriage of two small-scale imbibers stands the best chance at success, with a divorce rate of just 5.8 percent. Curiously, another recent study in Norway indicates that couples who share the housekeeping duties have an increased rate of divorce, so Unfiltered advises readers to drink wine together, but clean the stemware on your own time.
• We at Unfiltered believe that a glass of wine improves largely any situation, especially a visit to the dentist. Now a Fort Worth, Texas, car dealership is gambling that a bottle of wine might put you in the mood to buy a Cadillac, or vice versa. Frank Kent Motor Company runs one of the largest Cadillac dealerships in the Southwest, and Kent's great-grandchildren recently opened Cadillac Wines, a 1,600-selection wine shop inside the dealership. The shop features eight wines on tap, and encourages customers who have a car in for service to stop in for a glass of wine while they wait (limit one per customer—they are presumably driving home, after all). The wines by the glass range in price from $3 to more than $30, and come with a free Riedel wineglass embossed with the Cadillac Wines logo. Of course, Cadillac Wines will deliver, in nothing less than a brand new Cadillac SRX, of course.
• The 26th annual Auction of Washington Wines will take place this August, but event organizers have already named its lineup of honorees, and Unfiltered is proud to announce that one of our own, Wine Spectator editor at large and lead taster for the wines of Washington Harvey Steiman will be the 2013 Honorary Chair. "The role of honorary chair is reserved for leaders in the field of wine who have demonstrated a sincere appreciation for Washington’s industry," an auction press release read. "Steiman will be the first to hold this position since 1998." Sagemoor Vineyards partner and general manager Kent Walliser will serve as the 2013 Honorary Grower and former Chateau Ste. Michelle CEO and auction founder Allen Shoup will serve as the 2013 Honorary Vintner. The Auction of Washington Wines has raised more than $30 million for charity since it began in 1988, with much of that benefiting Seattle Children's Hospital. "I first visited Washington in 1978, before it emerged as a unique and exciting wine region," Steiman told Unfiltered after learning of the honor. "Walking the vineyards, tasting the wines and meeting the people responsible for them has been a great story to cover and, for me personally, rewarding to put it in perspective for our readers."
Thomas Nance — Texas Hill Country — February 28, 2013 11:44am ET
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